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Food Odyssey Recipes

<i>Etag</i> SoupJune 28, 2006 Wednesday

Etag Soup

A Change in Style
Somehow, hanging out at Aklay's place and watch him do bread wasn't doing it for me - not even if I get allowed to roll a dough. I don't have an oven so it'll take awhile before I can actually make my own bread. I made a proposal: what if I bring a main ingredient to his place and I prepare dinner for both of us? He doesn't have to do any cooking. All he has to do is supervise the cooking...what goes in the pot, when it goes in the pot, what to chop...the whole 9 yards. He was agreeable. I said I'll bring etag.

What is etag? It's Sagada's version of smoked ham. Pork is salted and smoked by the cooking area (if you're using firewood to cook). It just stays there, getting smoked, until you use it. Some people store etag in earthenware and age it there. It usually sells P20 more per kilo of raw pork (e.g. - if pork sells for P130/kilo, etag sells for P150/kilo). Every etag is different from the etag of another maker.

Cooking Process
I was at his door at 5pm with the etag, as prescribed. He had his veggies already line up. Per his intructions, I cut up the etag in half-nugget size and put in the pan with slow fire. This enabled the fat to melt down as I cut up the other veggies - 1 bulb of garlic, 1 onion, ground pepper, and chili. These were mixed in with the etag in medium heat until the fat caramelized at the bottom of the pot (browning). Then I added 1 Baguio pechay, 2 carrots, 1 chayote and filled the pot with water. After the water boiled, the heat was put to low for 1.5 hours. It takes that long to tenderize pork if it's boiled. 10 minutes before the 1.5 hours, zucchini was added. The soup was then ready.

Done Just Right
Aklay sliced some bread, brought butter out and we feasted on the meal. His said it tasted exactly the same if he had cooked it himself....yes!!! I asked him how often we can do it this way, he said once a week. I said, ok, but I suggested we do something blow-your-doors-off the next time...something haute cuisine. He smiled.

Ending Thoughts
This system works for me. I get to actually cook the entire thing with the hand-holding of a bonafide chef. With sprinkling of tips from him as I went along, I was a sponge absorbing every bit of information. Next week, here I come!

--- TheLoneRider

    Aklay Tips:
  • if you add cabbage, starch (rice) or tomato, the shelf life of the dish is shortened
  • if you use chicken instead of pork, boil the thing only for 20 minutes. If it's native chicken, boil for 1.5 hours.
  • once the food is cooked, leave it uncovered. Keeping it covered shortens the shelf life.
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